Mixed-race adoption: 'I had loving family'
- 19 February 2011
- From the section UK
As the government policy is to be changed to make it easier for white couples to adopt black and ethnic minority children, here, two people describe their experience of this policy.
Ben Douglas, black man from London, adopted by white parents
"I was adopted when I was two years old.
"My mother literally found me. She walked in and saw me as a baby.
"I looked up and smiled, and she said 'that's my new child'.
"She then went back to my father and said 'how would you like to expand the family?' and he said, 'yes'.
"They thought it would be relatively straight forward but instead they were met with a barrage of obstacles and difficulties from social services because they were white.
"They were told that they wouldn't know how to do my hair, wouldn't know what food I would like, and they wouldn't know what my culture is.
"I'm brought up in the UK so I'm British, that should be my culture.
"My mother had more of a stigma as it was always assumed she'd had an affair with a black man.
"But my parents were always open, and gave me much information about my birth mother.
"I feel very blessed and very lucky to have had the childhood that I've had.
"The alternative would have been residential care. I'm sure there's great children's homes, but it's not the same as having a loving, nurturing family.
"It's absolutely bonkers. Why should the colour of someone's skin, or their eye colour, or their hair colour, be a barrier to having a loving family?
"I would feel it would be ridiculous if I was wearing tribal African gear while walking around Teddington.
"It's actually quite racist."
Francesca Polini, white parent who was not allowed to adopt in UK
"I have two Mexican children as we couldn't adopt within this country.
"We wanted to adopt and we knew that there were thousands of children in the UK who are looking for a permanent, stable home, so we rang up the council to apply for adoption and we were denied the possibility to even apply to adopt because we were white.
"We were told all of the children available for adoption in that council at that specific point in time were all black or mixed race and given that we are white and there was a cap on the number of white couples who could adopt black or mixed-race children, we couldn't adopt.
"It was devastating.
"Not so much for us which of course was really sad, it was much more for the children that we knew of that were in care and looking for a stable home that we were able to offer.
"We just wanted a child.
"The paradox is that in the same conversation we were told that we could consider international adoption knowing full well that the children were likely to be from a different ethnicity anyway.
"We were therefore approved to adopt from Mexico where we adopted two children.
"It's worked out really well. The process itself was grilling and harrowing but the children are wonderful and we're really happy now.
"The situation is that at the moment there are children looking for a permanent family who are non white, and the majority of perspective parents are white so in an ideal world you would want to tick all the right boxes and make the perfect match but we don't live in an ideal world.
"Therefore the solution can't be sending prospective parents abroad and leaving the children in foster care until they're teenagers.
"I've met hundreds of parents who have found themselves in a similar position.
"I feel sad that I couldn't adopt a child in this country yet I am overjoyed with my children.
"But hopefully, given the new guidelines, maybe it'll happen in the future."